Notre Dame Football: Daelin Hayes provides leadership when Irish need it most

Notre Dame football welcomes back an experienced defensive end to its defense on 2020. Daelin Hayes is exactly who the Irish need.

It’s not that often that you might say that a 5th-year senior has a lot to live up to, but that might be the case for Notre Dame football’s Daelin Hayes. Even though Hayes came to Notre Dame with a ton of upside an star potential, the argument can be made that he has yet to break out the way that most Notre Dame fans hoped he would. Earlier this month, Slap the Sign actually named Hayes as one of the five potential breakout players for the Irish in 2020.

Make no bones about it: Hayes has been a solid player for the Fighting Irish during his time in South Bend. But on the football field in 2020, Hayes might just be able to step in to the type of role that allows him to become a household name nationally. All reports are that Hayes is doing what’s necessary to live up to the hype.

After seeing some time early in his career, Hayes eventually took a back seat to the super-talented Julian Okwara, which is nothing to feel bashful about. In his sophomore year, Hayes registered 3 sacks, but has only notched a total of 3 more since then. In short, though he has been a serviceable and important part of the Irish defense the past couple seasons, many would have expected more.

It would seem, though, as if door has opened for Hayes to dominate in 2020.

While no one hopes for an injury, perhaps Hayes’ shoulder injury (and the timing of it) was just that–a way to open another door.

Hayes suffered his season-ending injury in Notre Dame’s 4th game of the year, a 35-20 win over Virgina. Because he only saw action in 4 games, Hayes had the ability to redshirt and come back to the Irish in 2020.

Given everything that has happened in the world over the past few months, the Irish will rely upon Hayes’ production and his leadership greatly.

Since making the decision to return to Notre Dame, all reports point to Hayes being a tremendous leader for Notre Dame’s defensive lineman group. Hayes reportedly has made calls and held teammates accountable in keeping up with workouts during quarantine.

Recently, Hayes has been featured by Notre Dame in multiple official capacities in speaking out about the social issues that plague our country.

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For a Notre Dame team that will be lacking preparation time before the season, having someone with Hayes’ wisdom, leadership, and talent will be huge. It would seem as if the stars have aligned for Hayes to step in to a leadership role and become someone Brian Kelly can lean on right when he needed it most.